It looks like there’s officially no limit to the ways I’ll disguise and reconfigure those all-important cruciferous vegetables into a side dish I actually, truly ENJOY. Here’s my latest invention, inspired by a recent dinner at Aventine, a fabulous trattoria and bar in Los Angeles. Their roasted cauliflower soup was so sublime, I almost asked for a second bowl. It was smooth, flavorful perfection. Though the waitress revealed there was a bit of cream in the recipe, it must have been miniscule, because it tasted clean with no cloying dairy aftertaste or post-meal cramping. It was actually that uncomfortable, innards-churning ride my stomach took after eating dairy that was the real factor in getting me to swear off cheese and milk products as a way of life four years ago. The weight peeling off my body was an added and greatly appreciated bonus.
To those new to the blog: I’m not indelibly rigid about the dairy rule. If the cheese is exceptional or necessary (IE, when I crave a cheeseburger), I indulge. Moderately. Case in point: Aventine had Buratta on the menu and I adore it, so Chef Bill and I split an appetizer of the snowy white ball of cheese that tastes hypnotically good. If you’ve never had the pleasure, Buratta is fresh mozzarella with a soft center of cream. Truly decadent. Truly an experience. And for me that evening, truly worth the deviation. Aventine’s Buratta was actually better than the Buratta I had while touring Puglia, where the stuff was invented. And because its preparation was so pure, there was no post-meal unpleasantness – Yaaay! Sometimes life just works out well. But, as I do so often when waxing poetic about food, I’m digressing. Back to Project Cruciferous:
I was in the mood to experiment yesterday so with a head of fresh cauliflower, a can of coconut milk, some leftover chicken stock, and a wild guess with the Garam Masala…I alchemized that bland and ho-hum head of cauliflower into something glorious!
If you’re concerned about the fat content, you can use light coconut milk. But per serving, it averages out to be very moderate in fat content. And it’s not animal fat anyway so it’s all good! I strained the schmaltz (chicken fat) from the broth with a mesh strainer and you could easily use vegetable stock if you prefer a vegan version. The key here is texture. And I didn’t have the patience to wield an immersion blender for the amount of time it would take to make the roughness of the cauliflower transmute to velvety smoothness, so I blended it in batches in a food processor. SO worth the effort.
Hope you try and enjoy!
Dairy-Free Cream of Cauliflower Soup A La Aventine
1 head of cauliflower, rinsed and cut into chunks
1 can coconut milk
3 cups of fat-strained chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon coconut crystals, sugar, or agave
In a medium stock pot or large saucepan, bring all ingredients to a boil. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, until cauliflower is fork-tender. Let cool for a half-hour or so before pureeing. Puree in small batches – it’s the best way to ensure the cauliflower properly breaks down to yield a velvety smooth soup. If serving immediately, return to the pan and reheat on low heat, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t burn or stick.